Co-creating Positive Change: Be a Coach-like Partner, Not Just “The Boss.”

Use Coaching Skills to Empower and Bring Out the Best in Others

“Great leaders ask questions rather than provide answers. They don’t tell people, they don’t direct people, and they don’t order people. They facilitate great thinking through self-reflection and developing good mental processes.” – Cy Wakeman

The concept of leadership as we know it is dramatically changing. To be an effective leader means that you need to focus on the world as it is today and will be in the future, not on how it was in the past. Your success will depend on your ability to re-define leadership itself, as well as the role of the designated leader, in today’s rapidly changing workplace with its emerging post-baby boomer workforce. 

Veterinary practice leaders and managers must shift away from the notion of “take control and attract followers” to one of “give control and create leaders” if they want to build an engaging and productive practice culture. 

Companies large and small are seeking to create workplace cultures that enable creativity, collaboration, and accountability. One way to do this is through coaching. Coaching skills are increasingly recognized as an essential competency to facilitate learning and positive change for employees, especially younger ones. Using a coach-like approach is an effective way to bring out the best in people, to stimulate engagement and productivity, and to create extraordinary teams. 

Bosses tell, coaches ask. If your team is constantly looking to you to solve problems and keep them moving forward towards a goal, it’s time for them to be coached and not bossed. But how? You can lift the weight of the world (or at least, the practice) off your shoulders by becoming a coach-like leader. And, if you’re committed to this new way of leading, you will see the culture of your team shift from secretly resisting top-down mandated change to collectively co-creating positive change.

“We need leaders who are emotionally intelligent, and able to model and champion cooperative working. They’ll coach, rather than command; they’ll be driven by empathy, not ego. The digital revolution needs a different, more human kind of leadership.” – Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum

Session Topics
  • The coaching mindset/taming your “advice monster”
  • Specific coaching/communication skills
    • Active listening
    • Powerful questions
    • Direct communication
  • A basic framework/process for a coach-like conversation
  • Tame Your Advice Monster
    An intriguing (albeit difficult) exercise is to watch yourself and see how quickly you get triggered into wanting to give advice. Give yourself a day (or half a day, or an hour) and see how many times you are ready and willing to provide the answer. Then, challenge yourself to stay curious just a little bit longer. Asking coaching questions can help you break the advice cycle. When “asking” becomes a habit, it’s often the simplest way to stay curious. It’s a self-management tool to keep your Advice Monster under restraints.
  • “Count Your Questions” Self-Observation Challenge
    When you play the role of the expert with all the answers, you’re not curious.  You’re sharing your point of view without asking others what they think, or you’re asking them rhetorical questions like “Why don’t you just try it my way?”  Count the number of times you ask questions in a conversation.  If you’re not asking questions, you’re not trying to learn.  Now, for each question you ask, determine whether it’s genuine or rhetorical.  A rhetorical question is one you ask to make your point, like “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if we did X?”  A genuine question is one you ask to learn something, like, “I’m thinking it would be good to do X; what problems do you think we might encounter if we did that?”  The fewer the genuine questions, the more likely you are to be acting unilaterally.
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